The start of a new year is always a time for reflection. A time to look back at all that we achieved in the previous year. In the spirit of looking back, Barack Obama shared a list of his best reads of 2020 on social media. Staring at the list, I tell myself those are way too many books! These are his best reads, by the way, meaning he read more. I try to think of how many I managed to read, asking myself, how did he manage to do that? Does he have more hours in a day than the rest of us? The answer comes straight at me- “you could read more if you weren’t spending all that time scrolling through social media, especially looking at beautiful houses”. Which brings me to the big question for today- what do you feed your mind on a daily basis?
Reading is such a healthy habit we should all try to cultivate. I know I speak for a lot of us when I say social media is the one distraction defeating our will to read more. It is true that social media is a great form of distraction as scrolling requires very little concentration. However, there is a lot of great content on social media which is meant to educate and stir up great conversations which get very little engagement. Content which will nourish the mind and soul. But do we pay attention to these?
Content creators in this generation with a hope to inspire may find themselves with a feeling of discontent as their audiences are but few, and engagements close to nothing. Strangely enough, views on petty things seem to be at a constant rise by a thousandfold. It is as though we are prone to engage more with gossip blogs and vain content than content which is actually meaningful. We aim for gratification over edification.
I watched a webinar some time ago on Facebook. It was empowering! A wonderful conversation between two smart ladies. The guest talked about her journey to becoming a councillor after moving to Canada from Nigeria. She shared such enlightening tips on bravery, the power of having a vision, the need to have a cheerleader (in her case her husband), just to cite a few of her discussion points. It was a thorough exchange and truly inspirational. The number of views, comments and shares? Not so many.
The very next day, I received two videos of two ladies. I’d guess they are both in their late forties or so. They were on each other’s throats, throwing jabs and coming at each other with the most distasteful, vulgar insults you would ever hear! At first, I was very much appalled. Then I was confused as to what was happening. Why were these aunties quarrelling on the internet? My curiosity got the best of me, and I was off to Youtube (one of them mentioned she had a glorified gossip Youtube channel) to get to the bottom of the matter (nevermind that I had specifically gotten up early on this particular morning to do something constructive). From watching ten-minute videos of aunties going after each other with their half baked English, I spent another thirty minutes on Youtube just trying to decipher the reason for the beef.
By the end of the day, I finally got wind of the tales behind the insults. With more videos of these aunties washing each other’s dirty linens in public, thousands and thousands of views, and hundred more shares. I couldn’t help but juxtapose the webinar I mentioned above with the videos of aunties gone wild (let’s call them that for now). It got me pondering, why are engagements on vain topics plentiful? I understand the need to not take ourselves so seriously all the time but this is a trend. What do you feed your mind?
I do understand that we have to log off of reality every now and then. To tune off from depressing news which seems to be coming hard these days. I get the need to escape, to relax and be entertained.
However, we do ourselves a disservice when we do not pay attention to what we feed our minds. Choosing over and over again, vain over substantial content. If you want to be entertained, by all means, watch a comedy show. I’d recommend Dave Chappelle or Trevor Noah but I have been accused several times of having an unhealthy obsession with the latter. Maybe you won’t be entertained, but you would at least smile a little and learn a thing or two.
The truth is, there is such a profound power in choosing what to feed your mind. Time may be our most precious asset, but the real asset we have is our mind. Choosing what to put in our minds is fundamental in shaping our realities. What a lot of us don’t realize is that we are extremely visual beings. Long after we have consumed whatever content we consume, it stays lingering on our minds. Conjuring up ideas, notions and feelings.
The videos of the two aunties wilding trended all of that day. With a fraction of my tribe and I, calling each other back to back to make commentaries and guffaw almost as loudly as Jeff Bezos. Then one of them called at the end of the day to thank me for helping her waste a day watching a whole lot of hogwash on Youtube! A day she will never get back. She said her ears were sour from listening to Ekono English (no offence to my brethren from this part of the world). Another went to take a nap and kept falling in and out of consciousness with nightmares of the wild aunties chasing her. After hours of tossing and turning, she was up with a headache and a promise never to feed her mind with such trivialities.
There is this concept in Mathematics and Computer Science- garbage in, garbage out, which in many ways is a reflection of what happens to many of us in this generation. If you continue to feed your mind with content which has no bearing other than to entertain yourself at the moment, the outcome will be evident in your evolution/growth or lack thereof, and your mindset.
We live in volatile times- with way too much information flooding the internet. There seems to be no time to filter nor unsee all the things we come across on the internet. Be intentional (we seem to be using this word a lot don’t we?) about what you consume, and subsequently share. Make it a point NOT to share irrelevant, rather educative, funny and thought-provoking content.
Be more conscious of the information you absorb. What blogs do you read? How much time do you spend jumping from one social media app to the next? What shows do you watch? What books do you read? Whose opinion do you ask?
The mind is such an extraordinary vessel. When you feed your mind with the right content, there is no telling the things you can achieve. Moreso, healthy mind-bugging material often resolve in personal reflection and growth. By considering the thoughts you think, you inherently give yourself a benchmark for measuring improvement. You can only think great thoughts if you feed your mind with great ideas. I hope we can all share a list of our great reads at the end of 2021, if not, at least say what blogs we spent our time on which influenced our lives in a positive way.
By the way, here are my best reads of 2020. I am no Barack Obama, but hope my list pushes someone to feed their mind with great information this year and beyond-
- The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Trevor Noah’s Born a crime (reread, I’m I weird for doing this?)
- The richest man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (reread)
- You are badass by Jen Sincero
- Michelle Obama’s Becoming (reread)
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter (reread)
What have been your best reads? I am actually looking for a “banger” read to start my year. Please do share in the comments…